Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas, One and All

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy New Year to all.

It's almost Christmas and I'm really behind. Of course, this is nothing unusual. It's a little bit worse this year because Stefan was sick for about a week and then I caught what he had.

Last weekend we enjoyed a family reunion. It was the descendants of my grandfather and his siblings and we hadn't gotten together in a while. Most of the people I didn't know. It was fun though.

Tomorrow I will hopefully finish up shopping. Then YIKES! Everything has to be wrapped. We're going to my parents for Christmas Saturday night and will come back Sunday evening. We're having early Christmas there since one of my nieces has to fly back to New York on Christmas day. We'll be back home Sunday night then off early the next morning for Christmas Eve at Ralph's family, then back home for our own Christmas. Everyone lives a couple of hours from us, but that 's not too bad.

There's no Christmas tree this year. I know better. Scrappy is 6 months old and shows no sign of slowing down. Worse yet, he is enticing Nikko into doing things Nikko knows he shouldn't. Since they both love trees I think the Christmas tree would be too big a temptation this year. Scrappy is interested in everything. Just earlier he was hanging off the kitchen counter by his toes trying to get a look in the microwave. He rushes into the kitchen every time he hears someone open the microwave door.

After Christmas I need to sit down and try to get a handle on what shows to do in 2008. I'm going to try some new ones this year and pass on a couple I have been doing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Tale of Two Tails

An elderly friend of mine passed away last week, leaving behind this gorgeous spayed cat, Sugar Baby. She has long hair with a Siamese pattern and beautiful blue eyes. She has been an outdoor cat. I was told that she was only friendly with Francis, her owner, but she's been really friendly with me and seems very tame. She's a little freaked by being in a strange house. I'm hoping to find a good home for her soon.

Ahh, the pleasures of living in the country. You never know what you'll find on the front porch. (Snakes, a couple of times, and once a peacock.) I surprised this fellow (or gal?) last night when I went to check on the outdoor cats. I saw his tail hanging out from behind the curtain over the dog house door. We keep a light burning in it during cold months for our two outdoor cats. When I opened the curtain he ran for the back, and our cat Callie, who was in the back, took off.

The Opossum did not like having his picture taken. He stayed in the back of the dog house for several hours. The cats were hanging around the door waiting for him to leave. Luckily it wasn't cold. He was gone by this morning. I see him nearly every night, but this is the first time he's ventured in to the dog house. He regularly comes by and eats the cat's food.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Twisted Wire Bracelets

I had a commission to do a set of three twisted wire bracelets so here they are. I used a tarnish resistant copper wire with various colors of glass beads for these.

I'm so pleased with these I did a couple more in different colors. No photos yet. Next I'm doing bird nests, I think, with pearls and crystals for eggs.

The last scheduled show for this year is over, although I may do a show or two at the schools if I can fit them in. I'm subbing the next three days so that will slow me down. This time of year, between now and spring shows is a good time to work on my website and also on more complex jewelry. I think I'll concentrate on wire work and the art clay.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stefan and Colby skateboarding in downtown Dallas

Stefan is crazy about skating in downtown Dallas so we took him and a couple of his friends this afternoon. The first three tricks are Colby and the fourth one is Stefan.

Ralph and I went to Fry's and Half-Price Books a did a little shopping while we were waiting on them.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Scrappy's check-up

These pics were taken back in August. At varying times of year we have turtles who come by and stay around the yard for a few weeks, munching on cat food in the mornings. Here's an encounter Scrappy had with one.

He wanted to check out the other end but I redirected him. I'm not sure if that turtle would have dropped his food in order to bite him though.

Scrappy had his check-up with Dr. Rife yesterday. He now weighs 9.6 pounds, and most if it seems to be solid muscle. He's in good shape. I was concerned about his teeth. When his jaw was broken some of the jaw bone was lost. He is missing a section of teeth on the left front bottom, including one of the canines. Dr. Rife says his remaining teeth are lining up okay and there are no worries there. He got his shots and is scheduled for neutering next week. Dr. Rife did say that his frequent panting with exercise is not normal. His lungs sound fine, so she thinks he sustained some damage to the sinuses when his jaw was broken. Generally speaking he is in good shape though and we don't expect any problems.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flaming Hula Hoop Video

Here's the video of Chartreuse Hocake Shockadelica and her Flaming Fire Hula Hoop. This is the first time I've attempted to edit any video. I took this with my digital still camera. I wasn't sure how much video I could take with it so the clips are very short. For still photos go here. I took these clips at Maker Faire 2007 in Austin, TX.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More Beastiary

Here are more photos from November. Mostly I like to take photos of things in macro mode, or really up close. I have a bee, butterfly, hummingbird garden in the yard. The butterfly bush always attracts lots of attention. Here is a Monarch butterfly on the bush. The Monarchs are shy compared to some of the other butterflies and I was lucky to get this one.

There are several of these tiny gray green frogs in the goldfish pond. The larger ones are a little less than the size of a quarter. One day I startled one while I was feeding the fish and it jumped--just as Maize (the cat) walked up. The frog landed spread eagle on her and stuck to her fur. Maize tried to see what was on her but I distracted her while the frog slowly peeled off and fell to the ground. It looked like one of those sticky toys you throw on the mirror or refrigerator to watch it "walk" down the wall. Wish I'd got a shot of that.

This male grackle landed right next to me while I was pumping gas.

Water droplets from the pond outlined the tiny delicate spider web. This spider is only about half an inch long. Several of them make their home above the pond.

As always, you can check out my Flickr account for higher resolution versions of these pictures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Beastiary, Plus a Fellow

It's the eve of Thanksgiving which brings up the question, "what are you thankful for?" There are so many things I'm thankful for that it's hard to know where to begin. Most of all I'm thankful for my family and friends.

Here are a few of the pictures I've been taking this month. More tomorrow.

Nikko and Scrappy are play fighting in the yard. That's Nikko on the left with the demon cat eyes. Scrappy can wear Nikko out. Sometimes the easiest way to get Nikko to come in the house is to let Scrappy out. Scrappy has come a long way since we got him.

Here's Scrappy walking away. Notice the tongue hanging out. He's panting.

Nikko is hoping he'll get a little rest.

Buddy isn't fond of Nikko and undoubtedly is thinking about whipping up on him for real.

This is Casper, one of Mom and Dad's cats. He's mostly blind, but usually runs away when he sees a camera. He was really affectionate with me the last time I visited. Mom was recently given a talking scale by the Commission for the Blind. Touch it with your foot and it turns on and says "hello". After a couple of seconds it says "I'm ready." Then you step on and it gives your weight and says goodbye. It's so easy to use that the cats regularly weigh themselves. Casper is 9.4 pounds and uses the scales most frequently.

Here's Dad. Mom didn't want her picture taken. There are more pictures on my Flickr account.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Taking Care of Our Veterans

I was reading Sunday's Dallas Morning News today and one of the articles was about the difficulty many vets have in returning to civilian life. Besides suffering from PTSD many are coping with severe injuries. Why is it so difficult for the veterans to get the assistance they are entitled to? One was approved for assistance, but didn't get it for SEVERAL MONTHS because his mailing address wasn't entered into the system. That's flat ridiculous. It should be easy for them to find all the info they need to sign up for whatever services they need and get them. We should be taking care of our vets, particularly the wounded ones, and in many cases we aren't.

Okay, that's my rant. The other thing I wanted to say is that I really appreciated our veteran's service. All of them, not just the ones serving in the current war. I think our democratic system of government is the best in the world, and we wouldn't have it if there hadn't been patriots who were willing to die for what they believed in.

I do wish we had concentrated on Afghanistan and not gone into Iraq. It seems like we are spread mighty thin now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Odds and Ends from Maker Faire

More pics from Maker Faire! Here is another Art Car. Check out the detail on the headlamps below.

Here are a couple in Medieval garb riding horses.

These gals were handing out cards to a local club? At least I think it was a club. Since I'm not from Austin I didn't recognize it.

This reminds me of the Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flaming Hula Hoop

One of the cool things we saw at Maker Faire was Adelyn Botto and her flaming hula hoop act. I also have some video of it and as soon as I can get Stefan to show me how to edit and post it I'll put it up. She whirls this hoop around her waist and neck. Don't try this at home!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Brain Machine

Here are Stefan and I trying out the Brain Machine at Maker Faire. These photos were taken by maltman23 (Mitch Altman). There are lots of photos of people trying out the Brain Machine at Altman's Flickr site, as well as pics of people building their own Brain Machine. Altman is the inventor of the Brain Machine and also the TV-B-Gone, a really souped up universal remote control which will turn off any TV, including those annoying public area TV's.

Ralph made one of the Brain Machines at the Faire. If I understand what Ralph said, Altman recorded himself while meditating, converted it to digital sound and light, and made the Brain Machine to guide the brain through the various levels of brain wave activity that a person meditating achieves. Ralph has been hogging them since we got back so I haven't really had a chance to try them much yet. They do seem relaxing though.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Broom Straw Casting, or Ralph is Melting Things Again

When we went to Maker Faire we saw several Austin jewelry artists demonstrating techniques. Michiel Rushing was demonstrating broom straw casting. Ralph was inspired to do some himself. The first picture shows the silver being melted.

Now he's pouring the molten silver into a broom head that has been soaked in water and bound with twine.

This is the resulting casting. I'll probably cut the piece into two pieces. They will have to be cleaned with a brush and then a pickle solution. Then they'll be either drilled or have a ring soldered onto them for pendants or maybe I'll make that top one into a pin.

Sometime in the future I'll have a blog going up on Metal Chik showing our photos of Michiel Rushing doing the broom casting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Pictures from Maker Faire

I'll have to look up what this "ride" is called. Right now I'll just call it Big Wheel. When I get Stefan to show me how to process videos I'll put up a video of this. It was moving down the sidewalk when I took this. Below is a close up. Yes, there are people in the center.

This is a moving inter-active sculpture. There are little music boxes riveted all over the outside. When you turn the crank on the tiny music box, the music is amplified by the shape of the sculpture. Stefan is in the middle here.

Here's a better shot of the detail and Stefan.

This is a second sculpture. This one has large strings across the top.

This painting was done in dust on the back windshield.

Detail of the painting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Maker Faire Austin Art Cars

We went to Maker Faire last weekend in Austin and had a blast. I took 100 pictures, many of which will make their way to this blog, or to my blogs on Metal Chik. These are some of the art cars shown there. The first one is the Yarn Car. I've seen a lot of pictures of it on Flickr so it must have been a favorite with a lot of people. We talked to the owner who said he used acrylic yarn. He had driven it down from Dallas.

I really liked this VW. The decor is mosaic work and it was very well done.

This car looks kind of like a post apocalyptic armored bug.

Here is the Brick Car. There are 870 pounds of brick all over the car.

Two views of the Camera Van are shown here. Stefan is looking at one of the many video screens in the first one, and Ralph and Stefan are inspecting the vehicle in the second picture. The Camera Van is by Harrod Blank. Here's what the promotional info says about it: "An interactive Art Car that was inspired by an actual dream, the Camera Van has the ability to capture the amazed reactions of people who see it for the first time. Of the 2,500 cameras mounted to the van, six are functional Canons that shoot print film, and two are operational video cameras that transmit live images to the giant "filmstrip" composed of four TV monitors on the passenger side of the vehicle. One of the best-known Art Cars in the world, the Camera Van has toured the US, England, Germany, and Canada capturing shocked expressions in over 5,000 photos."

This one is kind of humorous.

Here is a car being decorated at the faire. This is an interactive art car build sponsored by HEYA. This HEYA project was made possible by Toyota and was hosted by HEYA and Harrod Blank.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Back from Revel

Actually, I got back last Sunday, but I just now feel like I am recovering. It was a good show, but very tiring. Every day was 12 to 15 hours. It was probably a good thing I was an alternate for the first half and didn't get called since just doing the second half was so tiring.

The Red River Revel volunteers took really good care of us and the food was great. One unusual thing was the train track that ran literally through the site. It was about twenty feet from the front of my booth. Here is a picture of one of the three trains that went through during the four days I was there:

One of the volunteers told me that they had rerouted most trains for the event. During previous years they had had to station police officers on either side of the track to keep pedestrians back when the train crossed. Gee, you'd think people would stay back from a huge train. However, this is a pedestrian plaza and many people thought the track was no longer in use. I did, until a train came down it. There is NO barrier here at this track. I was astounded to see several parents holding small children by the hand standing three feet from one of the trains that came through. NUTS!

Here is a picture looking across the track, without a train on it. You can see the trestle bridge for the other train tracks that border the site. There is a fence separating them from the site though. There was a lot of traffic on those tracks.

There are also a couple of Native Americans women in this shot. I wish I had a better picture of their dress because it was impressive. There's a belly dancer behind the red balloon also.

I wanted to get a picture of the crowds shopping, but the vendor tents were arrayed in a big U and I was at the top of the U without a good site line down any row. It was a good location though, better than last year. Of course, when it was really crowded I didn't have time to get out of the booth and take pictures.

I sold some of my new designs at this show, so now I'll make some more. I sold all the crocheted bracelets I had and a number of the CZ wire wrapped earrings.

All of this takes place in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Revel site is downtown about a block from the casinos and the river.